D&D Encounters, Tyranny of Dragons, part 5

Previously on Tyranny of Dragons, the party was asked by the leadership of Greenest to infiltrate the Cult of the Dragon, find there base of operations, their short and long-term plans, etc. After some minor squabbles with stragglers and a Rearguard, the party find the enemy camp. After some initial reconnaissance by Anders, Icarium, and Xavier, the entire party prepare themselves into the Valley of Death. Don’t ask me what I was trying to reference there; according to Wikipedia, it can mean many things. I was just trying to be witty, which means I probably failed. Oh well, I tried.

Our big damn heroes for this week include:

So this is what the camp looks like from overhead:

Camping with the Cult of the Dragon...sounds like a bad song / movie title.

Camping with the Cult of the Dragon…sounds like a bad song / movie title.

Thanks to their initial reconnaissance, the party knows some things, including:

  • The Level 1 area is made up of primarily kobolds; they appear to be mostly segregated from the rest of the cult, treated like disgust, etc.
  • The area marked 1 was notable as that’s the area where prisoners were seen performing hard labor.
  • The area marked 2 has the largest, most ornate tent in the area and is guarded by four robed figures and four ambush drakes.
  • The area marked 3 has a half-elf resembling the description the party was given of a Leosin Erlanthar. A student of Leosin’s had asked them to be on the lookout for his master in the previous play session. He is tied to a stake, looking tortured and worse for wear.
  • The area marked 4 has a well-guarded cave entrance. A very well guarded cave entrance.
  • The square things on the map are guard towers, about twenty feet in height. Kobolds appear to man the tower at the camp entrance.

As an aside, this blog post will probably be short and sweet, primarily because…well, when the group infiltrated the camp as a whole, for whatever reason, they chose not to stick together. Some of this was due to circumstances outside of their control, but some of this was by choice, which made tracking everyone’s movements and actions rather nightmarish. Truth be told, I’ll probably either forget details here and there, remember events incorrectly, or both. Par for the course really. To top that all off, I feel pretty bad about it all. Because the group essentially split into four, I kept switching between groups, but what that really meant is that at any one time, three of the four groups were probably bored out of their skull. One of my goals as a DM is for my players to have fun. I tried my best, but I suspect I had more failures than successes last night. Where are my fudge dice?

Anywho, let’s begin with how things started. As nightfall came, the characters notice more of the Cult putting on their robes, getting more organized, less celebration, etc. Before the characters could enter the camp in their stolen robes, disguising themselves as low-level initiates, a patrol happens to pass by. Most of the characters are able to utilize stealth to hide in the bushes, but three fail, and one of the party members, Vladimir, hadn’t put on his robe yet. One of the guards gave him a bit of a hard time, but Vladimir “sexily” put on his robe, and made an impressive enough Charisma check to get the guard off his back. At least the session started out amusingly enough.

So the group enters, still together at this point. The kobolds in the guard tower at the entrance give the group a hard time, but Gabrielli and Xavier speak up for the group, so they both roll Deception checks with advantage. Gabrielli is wildly successful, but Xavier rolls a 1 and a 2. To top that all off, Xavier was being rather belligerent. While that’s par for the course with these kobolds and other cultists, these are the guards to the entrance of the camp. So five kobolds lead Xavier away; Xavier resists letting himself be tied up, and gets a slingshot to the back of his head for his efforts. Gabrielli at this time decides it’s time for a distraction, so thinking the guard tower is empty at this point, she casts fire bolt at the upper platform. What happens next is a blood-curdling scream, as a kobold she couldn’t see dies and the upper part of the guard tower is now on fire. The kobolds leading Xavier away swear and run back, and it is at this time that the group, for whatever reason, went their separate ways…

Xavier and Bindlethorp: Xavier and Bindlethorp manage to stealth away at this point, and more or less help each other out. They make their way to Leosin, having witnessed Icarium punch the helpless monk in the gut. Making their way to the monk, they find the monk very much alive, conscious, and annoyed that they’re there. Revealing that he has a plan of escape already, the dynamic duo eventually find themselves called to duty as initiates, working a weapon detail, inspecting weapons. As rogues, they both try to pocket hand crossbows; Bindlethorp is wildly successful, Xavier is not, but he does not suffer stern repercussions as they continue their subterfuge.

Icarium and Anders: It’s notable that while these two started out separately, they did end up near each other and start working together. Once Gabrielli starts her fire-y distraction, the two sell the incompetence of koblds to other Cult members with ease. Icarium decided to start a conversation with the first tiefling he saw; somehow, their conversation ended up with them going up to the tied up Leosin and punching him in the gut, before going to a tent to wash dishes. Hey, Cult initiates are expected to do these mundane tasks. Anywho, Anders also started a conversation with another cultist, and ended up in the same tent as Icarium, peeling potatoes.

Gabrielli: After her fiery distraction, Gabrielli ends up in a conversation with a slightly higher ranking cultist who was running weapon drills. Gabrielli keeps her cover and ends up participating in the weapon drills; despite her lack of proficiency in scimitars, she does roll high enough on her Dexterity check to make herself look capable, if not proficient.

Vladimir and Tarvik: Vladimir elects to find the first dwarf he sees and ends up conversing with a dwarf initiate sharpening weapons. As Vladimir is also skilled in forgery (of the weapon kind; not the documentation kind,) he joins in. However, his ambition eventually leads to capture, as the dwarf eventually recognizes Vladimir as the person who engaged the blue half-dragon Langdedrosa Cyanwrath back in Greenest at the end of the Cult’s raid. Captured, Vladimir immediately claims to want to join the Cult of the Dragon, angry at the Greenest villagers for being weaklings, cowards, and cheap to boot. Vladimir is brought to a tent to be interrogated by Frulam Mondath, one of the higher-ranking people in the Cult.

Meanwhile, watching all of this is Tarvik. For inexplicable reasons, he decides to grab some cooked antelope meat and goes into Vladimir’s tent. When Mondath and Langdedrosa arrive, they kick Tarvik out. Langdedrosa confirms that Vladimir is the dwarf he fought, and vouches for his combat skills. Vladimir did fight rather well when he engaged the half-dragon in mortal combat, and has earned his respect as a rival. This, combined with Vladimir selling his dislike of Greenest (or is he telling the truth?) has Mondath accepting Vladimir into the Cult of the Dragon.

Back to Icarium and Anders: Anders feigns injury, cutting himself with his potato knife, and Icarium immediately escorts him out to get his ‘wound’ treated. While outside, Icarium uses his minor illusion to disguise himself as a generic human, and Anders uses his mental communication to great effect. They also make their way to Leosin; the half-elf seems annoyed, informing the two that he has a plan to escape and that a patrol walks by like clockwork every ten minutes, and that they should go hide now. The two comply.

Back to Tarvik: I honestly don’t quite remember all the details, but I think Tarvik kept snooping outside the tent Vladimir was being interrogated him. This suspicious behavior, plus some poor dice rolling, had him recognized as being from Greenest, and tied to a stake right next to Leosin to be executed in the morning. Realizing that he is massively outnumbered, Tarvik does not resist. Leosin, when he gets a chance, whispers his plan to escape somewhere around three-in-the-morning, using a knife in his boot to cut his ropes, than scaling the cliff walls.

Back to Gabrielli: Claiming to need to go to the bathroom, Gabrielli manages to get away from the weapons drill, blending into the crowd, she notices her friend Tarvik being tied to a stake and facepalms.

She immediately walks into a tent, and coincidentally (she chose how high / low rolls wisely) finds eight prisoners shackled together by a single, locked chain. It is clear that the prisoners have been mistreated and are malnourished, and most are unconscious save for a single child sobbing way. Gabrielli begins conversing with the child; the child in turn is terrified and wakes his father. Gabrielli manages to convince the father (and the stirring prisoners) she wishes to help, giving her rations to the prisoners, which they hungrily accept. Before she leaves, a young girl tugs her robes, asking if she has anything to drink. Gabrielli complies with her waterskin, and leaves to either find her companions or thieves’ tools or something that can aid her.

Back to Vladimir: Vladimir’s first duty as a member of the Cult of the Dragon is to inspect weapons, and bring the report to the leader of the patrol going around the camp. Upon entering the tent, he begins conversing with two cult members, explaining his new role in the organization. While the two enemies (or are they allies now?) are distracted…

Back to Xavier and Bindlethorp: These two decide to take advantage of the situation, and with a quick surprise attack, kill these two cult initiates rather easily. Amazingly, no blood gets on Vladimir’s robes. The two rogues hide the bodies as best they can, re-positioning weapon racks as necessary, before leaving to use their stealth skills to their advantage, hiding with relative ease.

Back to Vladimir: Vladimir takes the report and brings it to the honor guard by Mondath’s tent. They in turn tell him to hand it to the patrol leader, and instruct him to stand by Leosin. The patrol should be by in a few minutes. Noticing his former dwarven comrade is also now tied to a stake next to Leosin, he stands by the half-elf monk. Leosin is annoyed by these turn of events and tries to get Vladimir to go away, to no avail. The patrol eventually comes by, gets the report and before he knows it, Vladimir joins the patrol in their…patrolling.

Back to Gabrielli: Through sheer luck (i.e. I asked the player to pick high or low; high was selected, and I rolled high), Gabrielli bumps into an incompetent guard who happens to have the key to the shackles to the prisoners. However, the key is bent out of shape, and the guard was sent to get it fixed, but he has no clue how. So she manages to convince him to give the key to her (Charisma FTW!) and actually brings the key to the tied-to-a-stake Tarvik and gets him to cast Mending on the key. However, now that she has the key, she realizes looking at the cliffs that they are well over 100 foot climbs, and does not think the prisoners can climb it in their current condition. Also, making runs from their position to the entrance would be suicide, and it’s doubtful these prisoners are skilled in stealth. She goes back to the prisoners and relays all this information to them, and gives them the choice of trying to gain their freedom. In their current predicament, the prisoners decide against it, feeling certain death awaited if they tried. Gabrielli leaves them to their fate.

The Clock Strikes 3:00 AM: At about this time, Leosin uses the knife in his boot to free himself and the two begin scaling the nearest wall. Leosin is rather successful in his climbing, while Tarvik struggles a bit, but not too badly. However, the guard tower overlooking this area of the camp (not manned by kobolds) do notice that Leosin and Tarvik are no longer where they’re supposed to be and sound an alarm. To top that all off…

Back to Xavier and Bindlethorp: Our two rogues decide, perhaps inspired by the half-elf monk’s resourcefulness, to follow suit, and climb up after them, though interestingly enough, climbing is not as strong a suit for them to play as stealth. Bindlethorp is rather successful in his climbing. However, Xavier is another matter. He can’t seem to climb higher than twenty feet up this over-one-hundred foot rocky cliffs, despite the abundance of hand-and-foot holds. I guess climbing wasn’t a popular activity where he grew up. Whether it be mercy or stupidity, Leosin climbs back down to save Xavier’s arse and the two scramble to safety.

Back to Icarium, Anders, and Gabrielli: These three make their way to the entrance of the camp amidst the confusion and chaos rather easily, the sorceress meeting up with the other spellcasters in the brushes outside the camp. However…

Back to Vladimir: Everyone in the camp knows there are intruders. Vladimir’s patrol immediately volunteers to look for the intruders outside the camp, and make preparations to do so immediately.

What will happen next time? Will the party finally get back together and no longer be split? Has Vladimir truly abandoned his comrades? Will full heart-and-mind, has the Dwarven fighter truly joined the Cult of the Dragon? Will the DM retain his sanity from having to run so many split parties? Whatever happens, somehow, someway, I’m sure it’ll be brilliant.

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